Boy Culture reader Alex Gildzen sent me copies of his (more or less) poetry books It's All a Movie (2007) and The Arrow That is Hollywood Pierces the Soul That Is Me (2011), both of which are impressionistic and nakedly heartfelt tributes to the author's obsession with film.
In spite of a clunky title, the latter has beautifully minimalist verses commemorating the kinds of events only cinephiles (and gossip) of a certain age will recall, such as "Ann Miller Loses Her Nose in 3-D":
MGM made her a fake one/after a bad nose job/but/in "Kiss Me Kate"/she twirld so fast/it flew off/straight into the camera
Apparently, Charlie Chaplin once paid for a used pair of Clara Kimball Young's underpants, too.
I liked It's All a Movie even better, filled as it is with brief reminiscences of Gildzen's encounters with celebrities (remembering now the rumination about the word "celebrity" from the first edition of Richard Lamparski's Whatever Became Of...? series) like May McAvoy, Guy Madison and Leigh Snowden.
Best is his tibute to a time when he ran into Jetta Goudal, a former big-screen heartbreaker then reduced to an anonymous nonogenarian in "Femme Fatale":
the studios claimed she was/the daughter of Mata Hari/but she told reporters/"I was born on the moon/200 years ago."
the last time I saw Jetta Goudal/she was a 90 year-old/being liftd from her wheelchair/in a theater near Hollywood & Vine
no one there knew who she was/except me
I'd seen that face in "White Gold"/& wd never forget it/eyes that cd pierce marble/orchid nose lips that lure
hers was a short career/18 films in 10 years/she was directd by Griffith & Feyder/leading lady to Ricardo Cortez & Rod LaRocque/before marrying an interior designer/& becoming a society matron
on screen she'd been burnd/at the stake as a witch/even in old age & pain she possessd a face/that cd cast a spell
my thrill/that matinee wasn't what/was happening on stage/but peering back/at her magic eyes
Jetta Goudal temptress still/tearing out my heart/with a glance
Lovely and unique stuff.